Verne, a startup that has only been around for a couple of years and has received funding from organizations like Amazon’s Climate Pledge Fund and Bill Gates’ Breakthrough Energy, was one of the businesses that used CERAWeek to present its product offerings and theories on where the hydrogen market is headed.
On a panel discussing the difficulty of a truck using hydrogen to get the same mileage range as a diesel rig while keeping the cost of hydrogen low, Ted McKlveen, CEO of Verne, spoke. Verne focuses on the way hydrogen is kept in a truck.
These compromises result from the two different ways hydrogen can currently be stored inside a truck, which in turn depends on the engine system selected. One is as a compressed gas, while the other is when the hydrogen has been cooled to roughly -260 degrees Celsius and is in the form of a liquid.
Each has its restrictions. Because hydrogen is a less dense gas, shorter ranges and additional weight from tanks on board result. Liquefaction is the issue with liquified hydrogen.
A truck has not yet been used to test the Verne system. But, the results of the experiment have prompted the company to claim that its cold gas mixture may give a vehicle a range of more than 1,000 miles, which is comparable to the range of a Class 8 diesel truck.
According to the underlying physics of the Verne model, the gas can still travel a maximum distance of 1,000 miles after being compressed and chilled, but not to the point of liquefaction, without incurring the exorbitant expenses associated with complete liquefaction.
Verne is developing truck-mounted tanks and “chillers” for hydrogen-dispensing facilities to use in order to release the element as a gas.
With the Verne system, hydrogen gas would be drawn from a dispenser, chilled without becoming liquid, and then dispensed into onboard tanks created expressly for that use. It would also be necessary to compress the gas leaving a pipeline, but McKlveen said that would happen independently and that Verne is not producing the machinery for it.
The method also uses liquid hydrogen that is pumped through a cryopump, which compresses the liquid hydrogen into gas. According to McKlveen, the Verne system would then refrigerate the gas.
Verne needs to actually install the equipment on a Class 8 truck as the following significant stage. According to McKlveen, this may be accomplished using a pre-existing hydrogen car made by an OEM or a non-hydrogen vehicle that has been adapted to allow the pilot program to continue.